SRUC develops new methods to calculate gas emissions

SRUC has developed methods to bring greater accuracy to the measurement of greenhouse gases which enables policymaking that is more likely to lead to an overall reduction in emissions.

SRUC research has played a leading role in the multi-disciplinary, collaborative Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Platform Research Programme and provided a UK-specific method of calculating emissions of nitrous oxide. A new multiple regression model of emissions can now take factors such as soil type, fertiliser type, and rainfall into account and these elements have now been incorporated into the most recent inventory reporting, improving accuracy and ultimately leading to more effective action.

Agriculture is a significant contributor to global climate change through the net release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous dioxide. ‘Carbon emissions’ is the collective term for the release of these gases. At the farm level, these emissions arise from the use of fossil fuels and manufactured inputs, the by-products of animal digestion, the cultivation of soils and the loss of natural vegetation and forests as carbon sinks.

The UK and Scottish Governments have set legally binding targets to reduce GHG emissions by at least 80% (against a 1990 baseline) by 2050. A lack of progress in meeting emissions reductions from the agricultural sector, while other sectors have achieved significant mitigation, has meant that the proportion of emissions that agriculture is responsible for has increased. It is likely that agriculture will be the largest source of GHG emissions in the Scottish economy within the next 5-10 years.

As ever, robust and reliable data is invaluable in shaping the appropriate action needed to address this challenge. SRUC’s work on the Greenhouse Gas Platform is a significant contribution to that.